2017 Cinetopia Film Festival movie reviews {Detroit & Ann Arbor}

2017 Cinetopia Film Festival movie reviews {Detroit & Ann Arbor}

This was year 4 for me of the Cinetopia Film Festival, and every year I find movies that I really enjoy, that I probably would not have seen / been able to see otherwise.

Although I was at Cedar Point one of the weekend days, I was still able to see about 13 to 14 movies - I saw half of one movie, only because we were rushing to get to another, and I walked out of one movie too (which I rarely do, by the way) because 3 of the 4 people in our group fell asleep during it ... it was very slow and not very funny, even though it was supposed to be a comedy.

So let's say 13 movies, then!

Thursday, June 1st: Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor
  • The Hero. This movie, like most of the movies on this list, was on my "Top 10 Picks for Cinetopia" list that I published back in May, and it did not disappoint. It followed an actor who is getting older (Sam Elliott) and showed how he was struggling to book good acting jobs; he also was recently diagnosed with cancer, and must tell his daughter (Krysten Ritter) about it. Also stars Laura Prepon and Nick Offerman. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
The Hero, Cinetopia Film Festival 2017
  • Quest. A documentary that followed a family growing up in inner-city Philly. The director was on-hand for a Q&A, and it screened at Sundance. I'm not really a documentary fan but it was interesting to see their story, and follow the kids growing up. 3 stars.
Friday, June 2nd: Ann Arbor
  • In Between. This ended up being my favorite movie I saw at the festival, and it was in one of the festival coordinator's top 5 favorites as well. It followed three women living together in Tel Aviv (Israel), and it was in Arabic with English subtitles. The music was great in the film, and although some of the scenes were hard to watch (there's a rape scene, for example), it was a great example of sisterhood. 4.5 stars.
In Between, Cinetopia Film Festival 2017
  • Free and Easy. This is the movie I referenced above - we had four people in our group, and three of us fell asleep during it. I had originally planned on seeing I Am Madame Bovary during this time period, but Billy from Mind on Movies convinced me to see this one, since it was only 1.5 hours and a comedy (Chinese, with English subtitles). It's very, very slow, and I didn't find it comedic either. Interestingly, it won the Special Jury Award at Sundance, though. 1.5 stars.
  • Pop Aye. I can't rate this one since we only saw half of it, but what I saw, I liked - a man buys an elephant thinking it's one that was in his hometown during his childhood. Chinese with subtitles. 
    • Release date is June 28th (NYC - probably limited release) and it will later expand to other U.S. cities. 
Pop Aye, Cinetopia Film Festival 2017
  • Sami Blood. This was another of my favorite movies from the fest - we were going to try to see Columbus during this time period but it was sold out. I had planned on seeing Sami Blood at the Henry Ford, but instead saw it in Ann Arbor. It follows a girl growing up in Sweden, whose family takes care of reindeer; however, she just wants to live a normal life. Very interesting story. 4 stars.
Sami Blood, Cinetopia Film Festival 2017
  • Band Aid. For some reason, going into this movie, I thought it was a documentary about a band - instead, it was more of mainstream-type movie, about a couple who has hit a rough spot in their marriage, and decides to start a band with their next-door neighbor. Zoe Lister-Jones, and Adam Pally star, with Brooklyn Decker, Hannah Simone, Ravi Patel in supporting roles. 4 stars.
    • Limited release, June 2nd in the U.S.
Band Aid, Cinetopia Film Festival 2017

Saturday, June 3rd, Ann Arbor
  • Rage. Japanese with English subtitles, this movie seemingly featured 3-4 unrelated stories, until they all started to intertwine in the end. An interesting "whodunit" film that takes place in Okinawa, it opens with a murder scene, and the audience has to take it upon themselves to figure out the killer, of whom there are many possibilities. Rather long movie (2.5 hours) but also very good. 3.5 stars.
Rage, Ken Watanabe, Cinetopia Film Festival 2017

Sunday, June 4th - Arab-American Museum, Dearborn
  • The Dark Wind. A man's fiancee is captured and sold by ISIS; when he eventually gets her back, she is a shell of the woman she used to be. The title, "dark wind," refers to genocide. 2.5 stars.
Tuesday, June 6th - Maple Theater, Bloomfield Hills
  • Dina. This is another film that won a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, and it's a documentary that follows Dina, an autistic woman engaged to Scott, who is also autistic. It was surprisingly funny in parts, and an honest look at their lives. 3.5 stars.
Dina movie, Cinetopia Film Festival 2017

Wednesday, June 7th - Maple Theater
  • Menashe. I believe this was fiction but it straddles the documentary line - the man who plays Menashe actually is Menashe. Yiddish with subtitles. Interesting film, but I didn't like the ending, as I felt that nothing really changed for Menashe and his life. 3.5 stars.
Menashe, Cinetopia Film Festival 2017

Friday, June 9th - College for Creative Studies, Detroit
  • The Little Hours. Just from its trailer, I knew this would be pretty raunchy, and it was, with hilarious results. It has a great cast as well (Alison Brie, Dave Franco, Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, and Nick Offerman, to name a few), and I barely checked my watch during it. Definitely a weird movie but also very funny. 4 stars.
    • June 30th is the U.S. release date, but that might be limited.
The Little Hours movie, Cinetopia Film Festival 2017

Sunday, June 11th - CCS and Cinema Detroit
  • Fanny's Journey. I missed this one in Ann Arbor and was determined to see it, so I dragged myself out of bed the day after I went to Cedar Point, and headed to CCS; and I was very glad I did, as it was my second favorite film of the festival (after In Between). It's based on a book, and the author is actually still alive (she's about 86 years old); there were 28 children in the book, all struggling to get out of Nazi Germany, but they paired it down to 9 for the movie, which was riveting and also harrowing. French with English subtitles. 4.5 stars.
Fanny's Journey movie, Cinetopia Film Festival 2017
  • 44 Pages. I'm sure we all remember growing up with Highlights magazine, especially in doctors offices - this documentary followed their staff as they prepared for their 70th anniversary issue. Although the movie wasn't really what I expected, and a tad too long, it's overall interesting to watch. 3.5 stars.
44 Pages movie, Highlights magazine, Cinetopia Film Festival 2017

Have you ever been to a film festival? If so, which one(s) did you attend?

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